Laurie Gould: Don


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Suburban Pioneer

Last Sunday I went full-on Pioneer Woman and made my own butter.

What occasioned this spasm of DIY was that I'd bought some heavy cream for Thanksgiving, because you never know which of your five desserts will need to be slathered with whipped cream.   But we failed to slather at all on Thanksgiving; and the cream was stranded in the fridge, sidling up to its sell-by date.   Thus the butter project.  And it worked like a charm.

Look at me, making butter!   Just like the Pilgrims.   Or at least, just like the Pilgrims if they'd had high-speed electric mixers, refrigerators, and Tupperware.


Would Jew light my candle?

Chanukah started last Sunday evening, about six hours after I left my home for a week of work travel.  I have a travel menorah – which is a thing; it folds.   And I got as far as pulling it down from the shelf before I left for the airport.


But I didn’t end up packing it, because you can’t really light things on fire with impunity in hotel rooms any more.   And anyway I didn’t have enough candles, and by the time I figured that out it was too late to go buy any before I had to leave.


Hello, Pittsburgh!

What I really want is to be home in my fuzzy bunny slippers, feeding my sourdough starter and working on my seventeenth interesting way to cook turnips from the winter CSA.

But I am not at home in my fuzzy bunny slippers.   Instead I am spending quality time here:

This week has me making two round-trip passes through the JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport.  

Yeah, I know.  This all sounds a little too humble-braggish:  I am soooo busy because I am sooooo very accomplished and important.   Rest assured:  I'm not all that accomplished.   I'm certainly not any more important than anyone else.   And to tell the truth, I'm not even all that busy.  But on this particular week I do happen to have back-to-back business trips, and homebody that I am, it is making me a little cranky.


Nothing here is mine

Last Sunday morning I got into my car and encountered a bit of a mess.   Our cheap and largely useless sunglasses were scattered on the floor; the car manual and registration were tossed on the seat, along with a pile of CDs.  Soooooo many CDs.  

So I stewed about it for a bit.  Why had Steve left the car such a mess?  And why does he insist on using CDs instead of Spotify, to which we subscribe, and which streams just fine from any cellphone through our car speakers?   This question of the continued utility of CDs is a long-running battle between me and Steve.   For the record:  I am thoroughly on the side of modernity and progress.

After a few moments of marital self-righteousness, I remembered that I, in fact, had been the last person to drive the car, just the previous evening, while Steve was clear on the other side of the country.  And since I had no reason to check either the manual or the registration, and since I no longer believe in CDs and handle them as little as possible, someone else must have broken into the car and rifled through the glove box and other assorted compartments to see if they could take anything of value off our hands.


Visible Me

I am self-employed and I work out of a home office.   I’ve been working this way, full-time, for more than 18 years.     This arrangement has facilitated a good deal of control over what I do and how and when I do it.

The biggest benefit is time. I make my own. Of course, I only get paid for the work I do; and I do have meetings and deadlines and work trips and all that.  But there is nobody counting the hours when I’m at my desk, or monitoring my lunch breaks.   I love that.

I can start my workdays at 6:30 or 10:00; I can end them at 3:30 or 9:00.  I can use my study breaks to pop a loaf of bread in the oven, or to pick a few grapes or pull a few weeds in the garden.   If I’m having a slow day I can sneak out to a noon yoga class (assuming I’m not recovering from rotator cuff surgery).  Actually: I don’t even need to sneak!   It's nobody's business but my own.  That's the whole point of self-employment.

Many days, I don’t even need to dress like an adult.   I can work at home in my fuzzy bunny slippers.   If one pair of jeans is feeling particularly cozy I can wear them every single day.   And if I’m visiting multiple clients in the course of a week, I can wear the same outfit multiple times.  I don’t even have to change my accessories!  Because who’s to know?

Note to any clients who happen to be reading this:   I don’t behave this way when I come to your office, of course.  When I come to your office I only wear freshly-laundered outfits that I have selected just for you, most likely to match the colors of your latest corporate identity package. 

Urban Terroir

Over the past five or ten years, food magazines (and I read far too many of them) have lingered long and lovingly over the concept of terroir.   Here’s how the word is defined in the Lexicon of Food:

Terroir is the idea that food has specific qualities that are influenced by a sense of place. From the people who tend to it, to the minerals in the soil in which it is grown, to the local microclimates of the area, how food is farmed influences everything about its taste, texture, smell, and overall quality.

The notion of terroir has long been familiar to people who are knowledgeable about wine.   I am not one of those people.  But I have had a couple of opportunities in recent years to go on vineyard tours; and let me tell you, terroir is the only thing they like talking about more than the makes and models of their fermentation tanks. 

My first such tour was in Priorat, a region of Catalonia, which may or may not be a region of Spain, depending on who you ask.  Oenophiles (a word I do not know how to pronounce) adore the wines of Priorat.   And the vintners of Priorat will tell you that their wine is so special entirely because of the landscape, which looks like this:

Mutiny of the Bounty

It is a fecund season.  I say that because I learned the word fecund 37 years ago for the SATs, and in all this time I have yet to use it in a sentence.

But fecund it is. 

What is the sound of one hand blogging?

Early in March I took a tumble on some black ice and definitively separated my supraspinatus tendon from the shoulder bone to which it had hitherto been attached.  By the end of March, when it became apparent that no, my shoulder was not going to heal on its own, I took the obvious next step.

I started tomato seeds for the spring garden. Because a girl has her priorities.

Replacement Parts

My food processor isn’t working quite right.    The plunger no longer moves smoothly in its sleeve, and so grating potatoes is a hit or miss proposition.

The problem might be with the lid, which has a design flaw such that when it was sitting in the dish drainer and I inadvertently dropped a heavy cast iron pot on top of it, a couple of pieces of plastic broke off.  The problem could also be with the plunger, which looks a bit bent from having been pushed repeatedly into a broken lid.

My Internet search for replacement parts for the Cuisinart DFP-14N yields valuable information:   it is not a Lid and a Plunger that I seek, but a Work Bowl Cover and a Large Pusher!  But the Internet does not yield an actual DFP-14N replacement Work Bowl Cover, nor does it yield a DFP-14N Large Pusher.  There is a Work Bowl Cover for the DFP-14BCNY, which sounds promising:   maybe my DFP-14N is a subset of the broader designation DFP-14BCNY, if one accepts the hypothesis that my food processor is compatible with any replacement parts labelled DFP-14*N*, where * can be filled by any string of alphanumeric characters (including the null set). 

Mindfulness and Gratitude

Mindfulness!   It’s everywhere.  

A couple of weeks ago, on a cold Friday morning, I was living mindfully in the moment as I stepped out my back door.   I was mindful of the bright sun, which has been rising a little earlier every morning as March replaces February.  I was mindful of some green shoots sticking through the snow, sure signs of spring in this late-lingering winter.   I was mindful of the cold, clear air as I inhaled.  And exhaled.  And inhaled again.   And I paid attention to inhaling, and exhaling, and inhaling again, because when you’re being mindful that’s what you do.

What I was not mindful of – not at all – was the super-thin sheen of ice that had formed overnight on my otherwise cleanly-shoveled back porch.   So the minute I stepped out the door my feet went flying out from under me and I tumbled down the steps, with unfortunate results for my left shoulder.

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